Operational Framework and Action Agenda Challenges Ahead

he Operational Framework of Philippine Agenda 21 consists of a multilevel guide for decision-making consisting of sustainable development criteria, parameters and descriptors. The principles of sustainable development embodied in the vision serve as the criteria which help define the viability of development interventions. The parameters are basic policies from which the key ingredients of a sustainable development strategy are developed. Sustainable development descriptors translate the parameters into specific action strategies.

Operationally, sustainable development is development that draws out the full human potential across ages and generations. It is, at the same time, ecologically friendly, economically sound, politically empowering, socially just, spiritually liberating, gender sensitive, based on holistic science, technologically appropriate, builds upon Filipino values, history, culture and excellence and rests upon strong institutional foundations.

Philippine Agenda 21 provides a comprehensive set of economic, political, cultural scientific and technological, ecological, social, and institutional parameters that flow out of the principles of sustainable development. Development is sustainable if it is fully guided by these parameters.

Philippine Agenda 21 advocates a fundamental shift in development thinking and approach. It departs from traditional conceptual frameworks that emphasize sector based and macro-concerns. Philippine Agenda 21 promotes harmony and achieves sustainability by emphasizing:

    A scale of intervention that is primarily area-based. The national and global policy environment
        builds upon and support area-based initiatives.

    Integrated island development approaches where applicable. This recognizes the archipelagic
        character of the Philippines which includes many .small island provinces.

    People and the integrity of nature at the saltier of development initiatives. This implies the
        strengthening of roles, relationships and interactions between stakeholders in government, civil society,
        labor and business.  Basic sectors have an important role to play in achieving equity and in managing the
        ecosystems that sustain life.

The action agenda of the Philippine Agenda 21 elaborates the mix of strategies that integrate the SD parameters in the country's overall development strategy. In formulating the action agenda, PA 21 has been guided by the key concepts of integration, multi-stakeholdership and consensus building and operationalization.

PA 21 does not duplicate but builds on existing and ongoing initiatives related to sustainable development. Hence, sustainable development in the Philippines is the accumulation of conceptual and operational breakthroughs generated by the Philippine Strategy for Sustainable Development, Social Reform Agenda, Human and Ecological Security, among others. Sustainable development is also a product of the process itself, of engaging various stakeholders and of working in global national and local arenas.

The PA 21 is a document owned by various stakeholders in government and civil society. Hence, the action agenda brings out the important roles of major groups and other stake holders in the sustainable development process.

PA 21 must be identified with doing. This implies concrete policy statements as well as appropriate implementation strategies on the critical issues that will affect sustainable development in the Philippines in the next 30 years, including financing and localization mechanisms.

The journey towards sustainable development involves both a transition and a paradigm shift. Philippine Agenda 21, therefore, adopts a two pronged strategy in defining and mapping out the action agenda:

    creating the enabling conditions which would assist various .stakeholders to manage the transition
         and at the same time build their capacities towards sustainable development;

    direct and proactive efforts at conserving, managing, protecting and rehabilitating ecosystems
         through an approach that harmonizes economic, ecological and social goals.

Managing the transition to SD calls for interventions in the following areas:

    integrating SD in governance
    providing enabling economic policies
    investing in human and social capital
    mapping out a Legislative Agenda; and
    addressing critical and strategic concerns, to include: population management, human health,
         food security, human settlements and land use.

These interventions define the Philippine Agenda 21's action agenda across ecosystems.

The action agenda at the level of ecosystems consists of strategic and catalytic interventions covering the following ecosystems and critical resources:


    forest/upland ecosystem
    coastal and marine ecosystem
    urban ecosystem freshwater ecosystem
    lowland/agricultural ecosystem




Implementing PA 21

he implementation of Philippine Agenda 21 must be anchored on the basic principle of collective choices and responsibility. Forging new partnerships and finding areas of common ground for collaborative action are central to the process of implementation as well as building and strengthening the roles and capacities of major groups and stakeholders; a consolidated and well coordinated effort at information, education and communication advocacy; localization; generating financing means and strategies; and monitoring and assessment.

Strengthening the Role of Major Groups.  The identification of key players and how they interact in the whole process provide a basis for deepening the analysis and treatment of the ecosystem, and also for defining the varying roles that various stakeholders are expected to play for achieving sustainable development.

There are two major categories of stakeholders: basic sectors and intermediaries. Basic sectors comprise the farmers and landless rural workers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, urban poor, and other disadvantaged groups such as workers in the informal sector, children and youth, persons with disabilities, elderly, disaster victims and overseas contract workers. Intermediaries are composed of formal institutions that include the national and local government units, business and private sectors, non-government organizations, church-based organizations, civic groups and professional associations, mass media and the international community.

The key roles of the major stakeholders are defined according to sectoral needs, motivation or interest and perspectives. Intermediaries can serve as any of the following: (a) brokers of information and appropriate technologies; (b) mobilizers of resources; (c) net workers to strengthen institutional linkages, trainers; and (d) product enhancers.

Basic sectors, on the other hand, can serve as advocates of specific issues and concerns, organizers and mobilizers of community resources, culture bearers, innovators of indigenous approaches and systems, managers and controllers of community resources.

There are common grounds within which these key actors can undertake collaborative actions and interventions.

Localization.  The process of localizing Philippine Agenda 21 is a vital element in mainstreaming the action agenda at the local level. In principle, localization shall seek to emulate the following key concepts: multistakeholdership and consensus building, integration and operationalization while respecting the need to preserve the peculiarities inherent in each locality.

The process of localization needs a structure that will ensure coordination and cooperation among the various actors. The structure to be eventually adopted shall be left to the discretion of the local people. Two options, though, can be identified: tapping existing structures such as the Regional Development Council; or creating a separate structure which is a mirror image of the PCSD.

Financing Means and Strategies.  The adoption of a mixture of market-based instruments and command and control measures is expected to set into motion financial flows that would help achieve the goals of the PA 21. The strategy aims not only to mobilize funds to support PA 21 activities. More importantly, it aims to help induce changes in production and consumption patterns in favor of the sustainable management of the country's resources.

Financing PA 21 will have to rely heavily on the economic sectors' ability and willingness to incorporate sustainable development principles in the design of their production systems. Market based instruments working in tandem with the application of beneficial and realistic environmental standards through credible enforcement of regulations and sanctions could encourage companies to invest in abatement equipment.

Companies that support philantrophic activities can also be tapped by Philippine Agenda 21 to channel an increasing share for SD initiatives under an environment fund. Pollution charges and other forms of penalties and fines can be collected at rates that will provide an incentive for environmental protection. PA 21 may a1so be considered for inclusion in the Investment Priorities Plan to make environmental investments eligible for fiscal incentives.

Proponents of public and private investment ventures are primarily responsible for making the needed investments for environmental rehabilitation and/or mitigation in compliance with environmental standards. Incorporating such investments in public sector projects can be ensured through government's appraisal procedures.

Information, Education and Communication.  The imperatives of sustainable development necessitate a reorientation in the fundamental values of .society. Hence, the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive information, education and communication advocacy plan is part of the efforts to mainstream the principles of PA 21 in the various efforts of all stakeholders.

The IEC Plan for PA 21 would involve a mix of communication strategies .such as: social mobilization, advocacy, social marketing, networking and visioning. The following are some of the strategic messages which shall form the basis of the overall strategy:

    Sustainable development is a matter of survival.
    The only true development is sustainable development.
    Avoiding pollution is not necessarily avoiding profit.
    Pollution does not pay, Managing pollution pays.
    Environmental protection is a corporate responsibility.
    Sustainable development begins and ends with you.

Monitoring and Assessment.  To effectively assess the implementation of Philippine Agenda 21, a comprehensive monitoring, evaluation and reporting system should be established to guide all stakeholders to meaningfully participate in the process of operationalizing sustainable development. Such a system will also help institute broad-based accountabilities and responsibility for sustainable development among members of society. This .system may include the following elements: (a) a system to coordinate and evaluate the extent to which the Philippine Agenda 21 has been adopted and implemented by all stakeholders; (b) a system to coordinate, support and enhance existing national and loca1 multisectoral as well as sectoral monitoring, evaluation and information exchange on the implementation of initiatives related to Philippine Agenda 21; and (c) a system for reporting, feed backing and utilizing the monitoring and evaluation results on Philippine Agenda 21 for international, national and local stakeholder communities.

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